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blocks in the way; and, in the temper that influenced our Lord's hearers in the Synagogue at Nazareth, we fhall hear them faying, “What, have I who have been a profeffor of Chrift fo many years, and have been indulged with communion with God. I who have basked before the throne, and have been indulged with fo many Bethel-vifits from the Lord, ain I at last reduced to the fame fituation, as to the ground of my hope and comfort, as a finner in his first coming to Chrift? How fhocking the thought! How alarming the confideration! If I could admit this to be true, I must give up all and defpair."-Thus fome have fhown their enmity to the gospel hope, and plainly declared, that their experience comes from the foothing thought that Christ and heaven are theirs; though it is certain that Chrift propofes nothing, but his grace manifefted in his death and refurrection, for the relief of any of his people, under a consciousness of their deficiencies and daily backAidings. Witness, 2. Cor. xii. 8. Rev. i. 17. From the whole, though one would be ready to think, from hearing the doctrinal creed of thefe perfons, that they have fome regard for the difallowed gofpel, yet when we trace them to their experiences, and mark the ufe they make of them, it but too vifibly appears where their hope in reality is grounded.

To conclude: from the fpecimens that have been produced of the beft approved experiences, though each party is ready to cenfure the other, either for legality or prefumption, and fo would feem widely to differ from them; every one taught of God will eafily difcern, that in fact they all agree in one central point; and that is, to make up fome kind of a foundation for the guilty to build their hope upon, afide from the perfect atonement, and everlasting righteoufnefs of the Son of God. And though fome will speak of Chrift's work in high ftrains, and would at firft view appear to make it all in all, M 3. yet

yet it is plain, that without taking into confideration fomething either acquired by them, or wrought in them, along with his work, they do not find reft to their fouls; and therefore the more clear the profeffion, the greater the deception, and the more liable to entangle unweary fouls. Because this kind of felf dependance is varnished over with evangelical phrafes, and fo lies deep and unfufpected. Whether then our preservative against despair, or the source of our experience be called, everlafting reafon-a life of piety, virtue, and devotion-fome pleafing feelings of the mind, arifing either from bodily fenfations, dreams, impreffions upon the imagination, or the zeal of a bluftering preacher-the evidence of a supposed work of grace begun, or a powerful perfuafion of the goodness of our ftate, it is foreign to the hope fet before the guilty in the gofpel, and far diftant from the fource of all true chriftian-experience. In them, therefore, who are thus carried away, are the words of the Prophet verified, If. ix. 16. The leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. It would be the greatest happiness that could befall fuch, to be fairly convinced of the delufion, and be perfuaded of the fufficiency of the truth in Christ to give them peace and joy in believing. But alas! their bands are generally ftrong, and the leaft that is to be expected, for making the friendly attempt, (unless the arm of the Lord be revealed) is a fneer, an outcry of uncharitableness, a complaint of a bad fpirit, or a charge of being an enemy to christian experience.


Wherein the nature of true CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE is confidered.

T is very common for perfons carried away with the workings of corrupted nature, and the delufions of Satan, to charge those who, out of love to


their fouls, expoftulate with them, and expose their error to them, with denying all christian experience. But is it not very unfair to conclude, that because we don't hold a point to be true, in every fenfe in which perfons have fet it forth, therefore we do not believe it in any fenfe?-Every Chriftian has experience of the following nature, viz. That which arifeth from the flesh, the corruption of nature, and the various trials with which his heavenly Father fees meet to prove him; and from the inward proof, or trial that his foul has, of the gospel of peace and falvation, or from finding that to be true, by actual enjoyment, which he believes upon the unerring teftimony of God. Of these we shall speak moreparticularly.

First: Man is naturally of the earth, earthy. His conftitution was framed to dwell on the earth, and to hold communion with God in the things. that are made, through the medium of his obedience; fo that it was no crime for Adam to fet his affections on things which are upon the earth,. or to be of a legal fpirit. We may juftly fay, therefore, that it is natural for man to cleave to the earth, and also to have a ftrong propenfity, to feek the favor of God by his own works. This ftate is commonly termed nature, or the natural man, and at other times the flesh. Rom. iv. 1. Gal. iii. 3. 1. Cor.. ii. 14. But James iii. 15. not only reprefents man as earthly, but also fenfual, and devilish; and Paul, refering to the fame thing, fays, The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not fubject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom viii. 7. 8. Such is the dreadful malignity of the flefh as corrupted by fin, and fuch the contrariety of it to the divine nature, that it is impoffible it ever fhould be made like to God, or even in the leaft degree conformed to him, being in its very effence abfolute ENMITY against him. This corrupt principle is properly inherent, being interwoven with the very texture of our conftitution.

ftitution. Or rather we are faid to be in the flesh, that is, covered in and overwhelmed with its impurity; fo that naturally our thoughts, words, and actions are under the dominion and powerful influence thereof. When a foul is born of God, we are not to imagine that the old man is better natured than he was before; or that there is a change, in our corrupt nature, for the better. For we have the authority of the Holy Ghoft to fay, and the experience of Paul to evince, that in the flesh dwells no good thing, it is neither converted nor totally deftroyed. There is indeed a new principle, a vital, fpiritual, and divine fource of life implanted, which liveth and abideth forever, even the word which by the gospel is preached, and which is called spirit. But this is not nature renewed, but a principle as opposite to nature, as light is to darkness. Hence we read that. the flesh lufteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and thefe are CONTRARY the one to the other, fo that ye cannot do the things that ye would, Gal. v. 17. Corrupt nature, or fin that dwelleth in us, is fo full of enmity to God, fo deceitful, fo defperately wicked, that it is past all cure. We might as well attempt to wash the Ethiopian white, or to change the Leopard's fpots, as to make the carnal mind any better difpofed towards God and his law, even the great Phyfician himself has marked it incurable, and died that it might be destroyed, Rom. vi. 6. It muft, therefore, in whatever meafure it remains in the foul, retain its corrupt principles and properties.-Now the oppofite principles of flesh and fpirit, or nature and grace, dwelling in the fame foul, they cannot fail to oppofe each other. Each ftrives for the victory, and aims at the total extirpation of the other, fo that war is continually maintained, James iv. 1. 1. Peter ii. 11. Every believer then, has painful experience of this law in his members, waring against the law of his mind, which has made the Saints in all ages groan, being burthened

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burthened. Hence we find fome of them making ufe of fuch expreffive language as the following,Behold I am vile-I abbor myfelf-I am undone-I am as a beaft before thee--I am more brutifh than any man, and have not the understanding of a man-. -In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Those who have been made partakers of grace, cannot be reconciled to the flesh; they long and pray for its deftruction, in all its properties. The different and oppofite actings of flesh and fpirit may briefly be defcribed as follows: We have seen, that man was framed to live by virtue of his own righteoufnefs; hence felf righteoufnefs, is a chief property of nature, and all who are born again, find in themselves a ftrong bias to reject the righteousness of Christ, and eftablish their own; and that in various forms, and under various pretences, and none but believers in Chrift are aware of the evil of this propenfity-this. is the root of unbelief-this cleaves close to, and eafily befets every child of Adam, but as the believer only is confcious of it, the more he increases in the knowledge of Jefus, the more perceptible will these felf righteous propenfities be to him. So that, tho' once he was very unwilling to think himself indifpofed to the gospel, he now finds a constant neceffity of fufpecting himfelf of this evil. But the true grace of God in the heart leads the finner to live by the righteoufness of Chrift, its genuine language is, And be found in him not having on my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Chrift, the righteousness which is of God by faith, and, I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. Here then is the chief point where watchfulness in the believer is requifite, left the ever restless principle of felf-righteoufnefs fhould prevail. The flesh tends to the earth, being earthythe fpirit is for having the affection fet on things. above, and for looking for the mercy of our Lord Jefus Chrift unto eternal life. The flesh is for gra


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